It is almost Friday. All around the world, that means that women are baking challah for the Sabbath. For many, it’s easier to bake it on Thursday, leaving the bulk of the cooking time on Friday, the oven unoccupied. Or, they’re on the other side of the globe, in Israel, where the Sabbath starts soon. I see them in my cooking groups, asking for last minute recipes or substitutions and, inevitably, every 4th or 5th post, is a picture of the dough and an offer.
“Tell me who you would like me to pray for…” they ask.
They ask so that they can knead names into the dough as they work. Names are given, the first name followed by ben or bat/bas, meaning son or daughter and then the mother’s name. When you give someone an honor, you call them their father’s son or daughter, but if they need something, they are their mother’s, always. As names are kneaded into dough, everyone is the child of a mother, no matter what their need. Some, need healing, others a better job or more money, still others need help searching for a spouse or conceiving a child.
When we ask for mercy, we are our mother’s children partly because it’s a mother’s cries, a mother’s tears, and mother’s whispered hopes and wishes that carry greater weight in the spiritual world. They are what calls down blessings, they are what compels compassion and mercy.
And so it goes. Every so often, a woman kneading her own dough, but asking for more names and names are given, from all around the world for her to add, names linking every child to their mother and every child to each other in a long unbroken chain circling the globe in something as mundane as a recipe group.
Women keep the chain connected.